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From Glendora, California, USA:

I recently was hired as an apprentice to the United States Forest Service as a Wildland Firefighter. I had completed the physical, drug test, and employee orientation. I finished the first day of training and Physical Training. I was number one in S-190 (Basic Wildland Fire Behavior), and finished the first day of physical training at the top 2 percent of my class. At the end of the day, my Chief called me into his office to notify me that the job offer was being withdrawn for failure to pass my physical. Now, I had been completely forthcoming about being diabetic.

The next day I contacted the Human Resource Person who addressed this physical failure to find out why I failed. The person said the doctor wrote that my diabetes was under control, but I could not work in high elevation, in a safety sensitive job (law enforcement or firefighter job), or with or around dangerous equipment. These statements on my physical disqualified me from the Forest Service job. I am an avid mountaineer who understands how to deal with my diabetes at high altitude (more monitoring and high intake of calories) and had quit a job in carpentry to take this job. I worked with dangerous equipment there, as a commercial fisherman in Alaska, and working for my father for many years in his automotive shop. I never hurt myself or others in those positions. How can a doctor ruin my life?


The law allows for employers to establish physical qualifications for certain classes of employment, so long as each applicant is reviewed on a case-by-case basis. Firefighter is one of these job classifications. Apparently your physical qualifications were reviewed on an individual basis. If you think that the qualifications were applied against you arbitrarily, you can retain an attorney for information on your rights and responsibilities regarding this issue.


Original posting 22 Jul 2004
Posted to Other


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